Ministry of Education releases Framework for Summer & Fall Re-opening of Schools – Feedback invited!
On May 19, 2020, the Ministry of Education announced that schools would not be re-opening before fall 2020 and released an outline of what is being considered for the summer and for the fall re-opening of schools. (View Ministry press release
) The Ministry document, Ontario’s Framework for Continued Learning
, outlines a number of possibilities, and the province is seeking feedback on what is being considered.
Occupational therapists and parents of school-age children/youth will wish to review this document which identified a broad range of options being considered to advance learning, make up for lost classroom time and ensure student health and safety.
Options of particular interest to occupational therapists include:
Expand Summer Learning Experiences
- Focused programming for students with special education or mental health needs, including dedicated learning supports such as access to EAs and existing after-school programs that could be delivered through summer school
- A two-week program in skills development, learning and “routine establishment” for students with special needs.
- A summer extension of after-school programming for students with autism.
Considerations for the Fall
- In addition to Ontario’s Summer Learning Plan, school boards will also be provided with funding to support students with special education needs and mental health needs to reestablish familiarity with the school environment once emergency measures as lifted, and the re-establishment of routines as well as gap closing in skills development and learning.
- new health and safety protocols for cleaning, use of personal protective equipment, and for the participation of staff whose age or health profiles puts them at higher risk.
- opportunities for professional development for professionals, educators and administrators who may be supporting students with mental health challenges. School boards will also be asked to provide students with more access to mental health supports when they return.
- Schools need to welcome back students with special needs and prepare for adapted classrooms that may require personal protective equipment for staff and students where physical distancing may not be
Review Ontario's Framework for Continued Learning.
Implications for Occupational Therapists
Occupational therapists who work in the school system should are engaged either through the regional Board of Education funded by the Ministry of Education or through Children's Treatment Centres funded by the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services. Occupational therapists who serve the needs of children/youth in the private school system are accessed through the Local Health Integration Network funded by the Ministry of Health. Regardless of how they are accessed, occupational therapists are working in an educational system directed by the Ministry of Education. Monitoring and influencing Ministry of Education policy and direction is important to ensure that provisions that support access to school health support services to meet the needs of students with special needs are protected and enhanced. Occupational therapists will have expertise to share regarding the supports required of children with special needs and mental health issues.
OSOT urges members to share their feedback with the Ministry of Education. Feedback is invited. You can provide a written submission with your input, ideas or data by sending an email to EDUconsultation@ontario.ca. View the consultation document for specific direction. You can also support OSOT's submission by forwarding your comments and recommendations to the School-based OT Team and Children & Youth Mental Health Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let's take this opportunity to promote the valued roles OTs play and could play to support the needs of students in Ontario!